Updates to our Terms of Use

We are updating our Terms of Use. Please carefully review the updated Terms before proceeding to our website.

Tuesday, July 23, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Baseball scouts call foul ball against MLB’s firings

The lawsuit names 30 baseball teams that refused to hire a 17 baseball scouts, each with decades of experience in the game.

DENVER (CN) — In the hometown of the Colorado Rockies, 17 former baseball scouts pitched a federal lawsuit against Major League Baseball on Wednesday, alleging they were fired based on their ages.

Each of the named scouts had decades of experience in the game and was over the age of 55 at the time of their termination.

The scouts said they were all denied reemployment following a probation period, while the baseball clubs instead hired less experienced scouts under the age of 40.

The trouble, according to the lawsuit, started when businessman Robert Manfred succeeded Bud Selig as baseball commissioner.

“At that time, MLB began a ‘One Baseball’ initiative, coinciding with the adoption of a ‘Moneyball’ statistically oriented approach by clubs, leading to analytics and video scouting as the primary focus of scouts,” the lawsuit detailed. “As part of the reform process, MLB endeavored to begin heavily recruiting younger scouts, at the same time intentionally pushing out, from the scout collective, older scouts with prior knowledge, qualifications, expertise and training.”

According to court documents, when MLB shut down the organization’s centralized scouting bureau in March 2018, Manfred issued a directive to fire all remaining older scouts.

The Covid-19 pandemic saw the firing of hundreds of scouts, including 51 older scouts. They say MLB used the pandemic as a pretense to reduce its workforce.

“Instead of applying for federal PPP loans that would allow them to shoulder the financial burden of maintaining the older scouts, defendants chose to ruminate the employment of older scouts by systematic non-renewals and other means,” the plaintiffs said.

When older scouts sought employment, many were dismissed.

In August 2020, court documents say, the New York Yankee’s director of amateur scouting told 55-year-old scout Heffery Scholzen the organization didn’t have enough money to hire scouts. Even though Scholzen had been scouting for 30 years, the vice president of professional scouting at the New York Giants told him they didn’t have plans to replace other retiring scouts.

A Chicago White Sox director allegedly hired an inexperienced 25-year-old over veteran scout Dennis Sheehan, a 71-year-old man from Glasgow, New York, with a resume stretching back 28 years.

Baseball scouts have a storied history of evaluating players and reporting their merits to clubs, but unlike players and umpires are not unionized.

The scouts said they were all denied reemployment following a probation period, while the baseball clubs instead hired less experienced scouts under the age of 40.

The focus on analytics, the lawsuit contends, is bad for the game, rendering “baseball more robotic and less enjoyable to watch.”

In addition to MLB, the lawsuit calls out dozens of individual baseball teams, each of which refused to hire three or more senior scouts. The teams range from the Arizona Diamondbacks to the Washington Nationals, and include the Colorado Rockies.

Claiming MLB violated their rights under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the plaintiffs ask the court to award back and front pay as well as punitive damages and attorneys fees.

The case is assigned to U.S. Magistrate Judge Kristin Mix, who, according to Colorado Politics, presided over a naturalization ceremony at Coors Field earlier this year.

Attorney Eric Roberson of the Dallas firm Kilgore and Kilgore is representing the scouts.

Representatives from MLB did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Follow @bright_lamp
Categories / Employment, Sports

Subscribe to Closing Arguments

Sign up for new weekly newsletter Closing Arguments to get the latest about ongoing trials, major litigation and hot cases and rulings in courthouses around the U.S. and the world.